A calm, cosy, place for contemplation
Updated 30 July. Following government guidance, the castle and gardens at Hillsborough Castle are now open Thursday-Sunday. Please read our visit information.
Lady Grey’s Study was created in 1936, two years after the disastrous fire that destroyed many parts of the original building.
The study had formerly been a servants' staircase to Lady Downshire's Bedroom, Boudoir and Dressing Room, and a Reading Room for the Library next door (now the State Drawing Room).
Secretary of State Mo Mowlam was very fond of this peaceful room. It was used as the Sinn Fein office during the peace talks that culminated in the Hillsborough Agreement of 2010.
It was also the scene of a secret meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W Bush before strategic talks on the progress of the newly started invasion of Iraq in 2003.
This space is named after Lady Grey of Naunton, Esmé Burcher, wife of Lord Grey of Naunton, who was the last Governor of Northern Ireland.
Evelyn was the second wife of the 6th Marquess of Downshire. Colonel Repington, an intimate friend of Lady Downshire, commissioned this portrait in 1919.
The Colonel wrote a letter thanking the artist, Philip De Laszlo, for allowing him to attend the first sitting of the portrait, stating: "It seemed to me the work of a magician... that you could have transferred to canvas in one short half hour such an extraordinarily perfect representation of that charming woman."
Her Majesty The Queen commissioned this pair of portraits in 1985. The painter, Rodrigo Moynihan, was first commissioned to paint the Queen, when Princess Elizabeth, in 1946. Both the Queen and Prince Philip are presented in casual clothing against an abstract woodland foliage background.
Other notable sitters for Moynihan during the same period include former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the artist Francis Bacon.
A new collection of preparatory sketches displayed in Lady Grey’s Study of official portraits of key figures involved in the Peace Talks at Hillsborough Castle.
A collection of preparatory sketches of official portraits which now hang in institutions all over the world are displayed together in Lady Grey’s study.
A range of styles and types of work are included, but the works are all connected by the sitters who attended Peace Talks at Hillsborough Castle.
Hillsborough Castle has been at the heart of Northern Ireland’s political life for decades; not only have many political leaders, local, national and international, visited Hillsborough, it has also been the chosen space for peace negotiations that have defined modern political history. Many of these high-profile individuals are included in the portraits displayed here; British Prime Ministers, Presidents of the United States, Taioseachs of Ireland, Secretaries of State and many local politicians from across the political spectrum take their place here side by side.
The art of portraiture
Portraiture is both an extremely public and highly personal art form. Many of the final works related to these preparatory studies and maquettes were commissioned and displayed by museums and galleries of international significance.
This hang explores the intimate nature of the artists’ methods. Amongst the works included are drawings and sketches made during sittings or in the preparation of a piece, photographs of a formal portrait at a number of stages, various studies of figures and groups, a painting of a room where a sitting took place, a maquette for a large bronze and a cast of a sitter’s hands.
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